Food options for your business luncheon
What food should I serve at a business luncheon?
In our last post, we dissected some aspects of picking out a great venue for your next business luncheon. You’ll notice, though, that we didn’t mention one of the most important aspects: the food! One of the most talked-about aspects of any meal is obviously the quality, preparation and choices offered. Every person has different tastes when it comes to the food they prefer – however, by thoughtful choices and creative planning, you CAN make everyone happy. We’d like to offer some helpful suggestions, not only for the type of foods that you should consider serving, but also how it’s served.
What’s the best food options to serve at a business luncheon?
Consider foods that are easy to serve, and easy to eat. Baked Alaskan is an amazing sight to behold, but can be a hassle to serve. The purpose of a business luncheon is to focus on business, so the less attention the meal overtly requires, the more attention is paid to your message or presentation. This is why foods that can be eaten at leisure and be put down so a guest can take time to write down notes are so popular. An example of this would be sandwiches as opposed to a rack of ribs, which generally requires skillful handling with both hands.
You will generally want to focus on old standbys, in order to widen the most appeal. Chicken, sandwiches and a familiar salad are always favorites, and the trick is to come up with a creative variation of any of these. At The Heights, we’ve got a staff of award winning culinary experts that excel at coming up with not only delectable, but novel and original creations.
A few tips on buffet-style meals: Make sure to label each option on the buffet table clearly and descriptively. Let people know what to expect. This is especially important to warn those with food allergies, such as a peanut or shellfish allergy.
Provide a wide (but not too wide) selection of options. As I’ve stated before, everyone has different tastes, so providing a few different options (it can be as simple as beef, fish and vegetarian) can appeal to people of all walks of culinary preferences. A salad plus rolls, and three or four main dish options will work.
It can be hard to keep the food on your plate steady while walking through a buffet table. Try to choose foods that stay put on a plate, rather than sliding around and falling on to the shoe of the gentleman in front of you in line. A perfect example is to favor mashed potatoes versus peas.
Supplying guests with their own silverware at their place settings will be appreciated by your guests. Juggling napkins, loose silverware and a plate full of food can be tricky. Plus, it will help to save your floor cleaning budget as well.
For plated meals, offer a few options and offer color-coded or otherwise marked place cards to easily indicate which meal options that guest wants. This will make servers’ lives easier by easily being able to match the place cards with the corresponding meal – ensuring each guest will receive the meal of their choosing, and eliminating any confusion.
If your meeting is a big event, and you have the time, consider serving a test run beforehand. The Heights supplies support staff and event planners that can help walk you through these steps. A test run will let you see how your food fits amongst the laptops, notepads, presentation handout, etc, that your attendees will have to juggle along with their plates of food. The more business materials that your attendees will be given or will need, the less food-related items you should serve. Do you have a lot of presentation materials to hand out? Don’t offer a plated salad at the beginning of the meal, offer it on the same plate as the entrée. Another option would be to have the servers clear after each course. However, this will mean more distractions to your presentation. Also, consider a simple dessert like cookies that attendees can pick up at the buffet table along with their entrée, or put out a platter of cookies on each table. This will eliminate the need for cluttersome dessert plates.
How much food will you need? Always overestimate by 5-10%. In almost every business luncheon I’ve hosted or planned, the RSVP list doesn’t match the actual number of attendees that show up. True, there will be a few that will RSVP that won’t show up the day of the event, but there may also be a few that either want to attend last minute, forgo their RSVP, or come as guests of your attendees. And in the event of uncertainty, it’s better to overestimate than underestimate. I’d rather have a few leftovers than a few guests that have to go hungry. Luckily, you also have a support staff and planners to help you estimate how much food you’ll actually need. Anything from the subject matter, day of the week or even weather can affect this, but the helpful event staff at The Heights have the experience to advise you so you’re not paying for food that would otherwise go to waste.
Lastly, if your meeting goes all afternoon or all day, always keep refreshments available. Attendees get thirsty or hungry, so make sure you have some light snacks available for them throughout the day. Juice, soft drinks and water should also be available.
Whatever your luncheon needs, The Heights in Verona can accommodate you. We specialize in customizable events that fit your exact needs. Plus, with 7,000 square feet and seating that can hold up to 550 guests, we’re one of the biggest meeting venues in southern Wisconsin. Call The Heights today to schedule a meeting with one of our in-house event planners.